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Guiding Growth: Supporting Your Child's Development from Ages 3 to School Age

As children transition from the toddler years into the dynamic period leading up to school age, their world expands in extraordinary ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a framework of developmental milestones that can help parents ensure their children are on track and thriving. From mastering motor skills to blossoming social interactions, here's how you can support your child’s development in alignment with CDC guidelines.

Understanding Developmental Milestones

The CDC's developmental milestones for children ages 3 to 5 encompass a range of skills that are generally grouped into four major areas:

  • Social/Emotional: Developing friendships, playing with other children, and showing a wide range of emotions.

  • Speech/Language: Speaking clearly, telling stories, and engaging in conversations.

  • Cognitive: Working with puzzles, understanding numbers, and exploring the environment with curiosity.

  • Physical/Motor: Running, jumping, climbing, and beginning to perform tasks with more dexterity, such as drawing shapes or dressing themselves.

Ages 3 to 4: Curiosity and Independence

At this stage, your child is likely to show rapid growth in language and begin asserting their independence.

  • Encourage Play: Provide a variety of play activities that stimulate imagination and encourage cooperative play with others.

  • Foster Communication: Engage in conversations, ask open-ended questions, and encourage storytelling to help develop language and thinking skills.

  • Promote Physical Activity: Designate time for active play. Simple sports, running, and climbing are vital for developing coordination and gross motor skills.

  • Establish Routines: Consistent daily routines can enhance a child’s sense of security and help them understand expectations.

Ages 4 to 5: Preparing for School

As your child approaches school age, focus on skills that will help them succeed in a classroom setting.

  • Literacy Skills: Read daily, pointing out words and discussing the story to reinforce language skills and comprehension.

  • Numeracy Skills: Introduce basic math concepts through games and everyday activities like cooking or shopping.

  • Social Skills: Encourage activities that require taking turns, sharing, and playing as part of a group.

  • Self-Care: Teach and encourage self-care habits, such as dressing, brushing teeth, and organizational skills.

Promoting Development Through Play

  • Structured Play: Engage in games and activities that have rules and objectives to develop cognitive and social skills.

  • Creative Play: Offer arts and crafts activities to fine-tune motor skills and foster creativity.

  • Outdoor Play: Encourage outdoor exploration to promote physical development and a connection with nature.

Leveraging Technology Wisely

  • Educational Media: Choose high-quality educational programs and apps that reinforce learning goals.

  • Screen Time Limits: Follow the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on screen time, ensuring it doesn’t replace time for active, creative play.

Collaborating with Educators and Caregivers

  • Parent-Teacher Communication: Regular communication with preschool teachers can provide insights into your child’s progress and areas where they may need additional support.

  • Consistent Messaging: Align with caregivers and teachers to provide consistent guidance and reinforcement of learned skills.

Addressing and Recognizing Delays

  • Monitor Milestones: Keep track of your child’s milestones and consult with your health care provider if you have concerns.

  • Early Intervention: If there are delays, early intervention can offer therapies that may significantly benefit your child’s development.

Celebrating Individuality

It’s essential to remember that the CDC’s milestones are guidelines, not deadlines. Each child develops at their own pace, and it’s important to celebrate their unique path.

By providing a supportive, loving, and enriched environment, you can give your child the tools they need to grow and flourish as they approach the start of their formal education. Embrace each moment of these preschool years, as they are filled with opportunities for bonding, learning, and preparing for the exciting journey of school life ahead.

You can read the CDC's Developmental Milestone Article HERE.

During the months of December and January Dr Julie and Dr Mark are offering complimentary Spinal Health checks for children. Call us on 9428 4033 to make a booking and please mention it’s for a Children’s Spinal Health Check at the time of booking.


Dr Mark has a special interest in helping recreational athletes of all ages perform better and prevent injury. Correct breathing and postural alignment are critical for top performance and injury prevention and is an integral part of “The Over 40 Athlete System” that Mark has developed.

Dr Julie has a special interest in helping mothers and “mothers to be”. Her Post Graduate qualifications in Paediatric Chiropractic and as an ex-midwife give her a unique ability to help pregnant women, new mums and their young children.

Yours in Health,

Dr's Mark & Julie


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